Postnatal care is a very important step towards long-term health and well-being of a woman after giving birth. A woman’s body goes through several physical, social, and psychological changes during pregnancy and at the time of delivery. Other than that, she has the added responsibility of feeding and taking care of the baby. Adjusting to a new phase of life as the baby takes priority, sleepless nights, fatigue, lack of support in nuclear families and the rush to get back to “normal” life often lead to neglect of the mother’s health.
The First 40 Days
The ancient science of Ayurveda stipulates a resting or confinement period of a minimum 40 days after childbirth for the mother’s body to recover and heal as well as for nurturing a bond between the mother and child without any other distractions like household chores. This postnatal care system has traditionally been followed in India for generations. However, with the fast-paced modern lifestyle and lack of support in nuclear families, post-partum care is often ignored leading to long-term health issues for the woman, like back-pain and weakening of core muscles. More instances of post-partum depression are being observed these days which have a negative effect not only on the mother-baby bonding but on the whole family in the long run.
Common Physical And Mental Issues Faced By A Woman Post Delivery:
- Back pain
- Body pain
- Excessive and continued bleeding
- Stretch marks
- Problems with production of milk and breast-feeding (including blocked ducts)
- Infections in the bladder, uterus, kidney or skin
- Pain in the perineal area
- Urinary incontinence
- Hair fall
- Mood swings, Irritability and Depression
According to Ayurveda, the Vata and Pitta Dosha are severely affected during pregnancy and at the time of delivery. Lowered agni impacts the digestive system adversely reducing appetite and the ability to digest food properly. Balancing the Vata and Pitta Dosha is the primary aim of any Ayurvedic practice post delivery.
Benefits Of A Postpartum Massage Or Abhyanga
A body massage plays a very important role in relaxing and rejuvenating a new mother after the distress of childbirth.
- Relaxing and de-stressing: A warm oil body massage is excellent for relaxing the body and loosening up and toning the knotted tissues and muscles Followed by a warm shower, it helps in inducing a good and deep sleep that is so necessary for the mother, who is adjusting to her newborn’s needs.
- Controls blood pressure– Improved blood circulation due to an Ayurvedic oil massage also helps in regulating the blood flow.
- Relieves pain : It is quite common for a new mother to have a sore body with aching muscles after the delivery. A massage improves circulation of blood and gives relief from muscle pains and joint pain.
- Eases breast pain and milk flow: Massaging the breasts with light hands eases pain due to fullness and sore and cracked nipples. It also helps in ensuring a proper flow of milk without any blocked milk ducts that can lead to mastitis. Be sure to clean off the oil completely, though, before breast feeding your baby.
- Toning and cleaning of the uterus: An abdominal massage helps the uterus in its natural cleansing process of removing the lochia and also in returning to its original shape and size. It also tones the abdomen and other parts of the body easing them back into shape post weight-gain during pregnancy.
- Strengthening: A body massage strengthens your core and other muscles and brings back energy and vitality to the body.
- Hormone regulation: It has been proven that a body massage stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers and feel-good hormones. This aids in prevention of post-partum depression or baby blues and gives the mother some time for self-care, beyond the newly added responsibilities of a newborn.
- Controls hairfall: Pregnancy, delivery and motherhood are a roller-coaster ride of fluctuating hormones. Combined with stress and anxiety, this often leads to severe hairfall seen in about 80-90% of new mothers. A head massage with warm oil infused with beneficial herbs helps in nourishing the scalp and controlling hairfall.
- Keeps skin soft and healthy: Oleation or massage therapy softens the skin, reduces stretch marks and keeps itchiness at bay.